Roy Keane: footballer, fighter, lover (of fighting). Comfortably one of the most decorated players in English domestic football history, the Irishman is also, hands-down, the angriest person to have ever plied his trade in the Barclays Premier League. Even his lustrously thick beard exudes angst and malevolence.
In a 25-year and counting football career, Keane has displayed the sort of competitive drive that would give a rutting Stag on Viagra pause for thought, locking horns on a seemingly weekly basis with opponents, team-mates, managers, officials and even inanimate objects.
To celebrate the bungled early release of his second autobiography, The18 brings you five of Roy’s most notorious outbursts and incidents. As the great man himself might say, “you’re f*cking welcome.”
5. 1995 FA Cup Semi-Final
During an ill-tempered FA Cup semi-final replay against Crystal Palace, Roy Keane suffered a cut to his left ankle that required stitches at half time. Not a man to let the small matter of a gaping hole in his foot stop him, Keano pushed on.
That is, he continued until Gareth Southgate made a fairly robust tackle on our Roy which, apparently, aggravated his injured ankle.
Not that Keane limped off, you understand. Oh no. Instead, he stamped on Southgate’s groin, and then again on his chest for good measure. Then he started fighting.
It was the first of 11 red cards acquired whilst playing for Man United.
4. MUTV Rant
It’s 2005, and Keane’s powers as a player are on the wane. So too, perhaps unsurprisingly, are Manchester United’s. Following a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough, MUTV (United’s in-house broadcaster) took the frankly ludicrous decision to ask for Keane’s verdict on the performance.
The club captain proceeded to tear his team-mates limb-from-limb, branding, among others, Kieran Richardson “lazy,” Darren Fletcher overrated and Alan Smith “lost,” before attacking Ruud van Nistelrooy for having the temerity to comb his hair before a TV interview.
He concluded his character assassination by telling MUTV that: “There is talk of putting this right in January and bringing players in. We should be doing the opposite: we should be getting rid of people in January.”
The interview was pulled and all copies destroyed, though not before Keane had insisted on letting his teammates view his outburst.
His United contract was terminated shortly thereafter.
3. Schmeichel Hotel Brawl
Peter Schmeichel is probably the greatest goalkeeper to have played in the Premier League (although, maybe not in the history of the game). He’s also a man-mountain, standing at six foot three with the body composition of a Scandinavian lighthouse. When we tell you that he used to room with Eric Cantona, you’ll better understand that Schmeichel has both the physical and psychological fortitude to scare the living sh*t out of everyone south of Chuck Norris.
Not that any of this concerned one Roy Maurice Keane. We’ll allow the man himself to take over the story:
“I had a bust-up with Peter when we were on a pre-season tour of Asia, in 1998… I think we were in Hong Kong. There was drink involved.
"There'd been a little bit of tension between us over the years, for football reasons… He said: 'I've had enough of you, It's time we sorted this out.' So I said 'Okay' and we had a fight. It felt like 10 minutes. There was a lot of noise - Peter's a big lad.
“I woke up the next morning. I kind of vaguely remembered the fight. My hand was really sore and one of my fingers was bent backwards.”
It transpires that, with Nicky Butt refereeing, Keane had head-butted Schmeichel before wrestling him around the 27th floor of their hotel “for ages.”
United went on to have the most successful season in their history, securing a League, FA Cup and Champions League treble: creative tension at its finest.
2. The Saipan Incident
Ever the pragmatist, Roy Keane went off to the 2002 World Cup with Ireland having apparently told Sir Alex Ferguson they were going to win it. When he discovered that Ireland’s pre-tournament training facilities were not up to the standards he expected, Keane threatened to leave, but, changing his mind, instead gave an interview to two Irish journalists outlining his concerns.
When Ireland manager Mick McCarthy confronted Keane about the article, an argument ensued. We’ll just leave you to savour Keane’s poetry unencumbered:
Mick, you're a liar…you're a f*cking w*nker. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a f*cking w*nker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b*llocks.
Needless to say, Keane never played for Ireland again.
1. Alf-Inge Haaland
There’s a great deal of debate over whether Roy Keane deliberately sought to injure Alf-Inge Haaland, or merely batter the sh*t out of him. Either way, it wasn’t pretty.
During the 2001 Manchester Derby, Keane dished out his signature brand of retribution for what he believed to be Haaland’s disrespectful behaviour three years earlier, when Keane himself had been injured by an incident involving the Norweigan. Keane’s studs-up, knee high “tackle” is simply brutal to behold, and Haaland never played a full game of football again.
Did Keane show any remorse? Not a smidgen. Less than a year later, the Irishman had the following to say about the incident in his first autobiography: "I'd waited long enough. I f*cking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don't ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”
But don’t go thinking Haaland was a special case: “Was he at the back of my mind? Of course he was. Like Rob Lee was, like David Batty was, like Alan Shearer was, like Patrick Vieira was. All these players were in the back of my mind: ‘If I get a chance I’m going to f*cking hit you, of course I am.’”
Sweet Baby Jesus.